Kirby Cultural Arts Complex | NC Now | UNC-TV


>>THE BEAUTIFUL KIRBY CULTURAL
ARTS COMPLEX IN ROXBORO, NORTH CAROLINA, OPENED ITS DOORS ON
AUGUST 1st, 1949, AS A MOVIE THEATRE. THE FIRST MOVIE SHOWN WAS “THE
STRATTON STORY,” STARRING JUNE ALLYSON AND JAMES STEWART. MERILYN NEWELL, THE MAYOR OF
ROXBORO, GREW UP GOING TO THE KIRBY AND LOVES THE HISTORY THAT
IT BRINGS TO PERSON COUNTY.>>IT ACTUALLY TOOK THE PLACE IN
ROXBORO OF WHAT WAS FORMERLY THE DOLLY MADISON THEATRE AND THE
PALACE THEATRE, BOTH OF WHICH HAD OPERATED PRIOR TO THE KIRBY
BEING BUILT. SO, OF COURSE, THERE WAS A GREAT
DEAL OF EXCITEMENT. THE KIRBY WAS MUCH LARGER THAN
BOTH THE DOLLY MADISON AND THE PALACE. AND SO IT WAS REALLY A HUGE
MOMENT IN OUR COMMUNITY WHEN THE KIRBY OPENED ITS DOORS. THE KIRBY WOULD SEAT NEARLY 800
PATRONS, SO IT WAS ONE OF THE LARGEST FACILITIES OF ITS KIND
PROBABLY IN THIS REGION.>>THE KIRBY OPERATED AS A MOVIE
THEATRE UNTIL 1973, WHEN IT CLOSED ITS DOORS, ONLY REOPENING
FOR THE OCCASIONAL THEATRE PERFORMANCE FOR THE LOCAL
SCHOOLS. IT WAS PURCHASED BY PERSON
COUNTY IN 1974. AT THAT POINT IT WAS RENOVATED. IN 1978, THE DOORS WERE OPENED
AGAIN, BUT THIS TIME THE KIRBY WAS NO LONGER A MOVIE THEATRE. IT WAS A CIVIC AUDITORIUM. THE PERSON COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL
TOOK OVER THE SPACE IN THE LATE ’70s AND EARLY ’80s AND BEGAN
MORE RENOVATIONS.>>ONE PROJECT AT A TIME, IT
SEEMED. WE WOULD REPLACE THE SEATS. THEY BEGAN TO PUT IN CARPET. AND THEN THE DECORATIVE PARTS
WERE BEGINNING TO COME BACK.>>THEY BEGAN TO MAKE
RENOVATIONS TO THE ENTRANCEWAYS, THE LOBBY, AND THE BEAUTIFUL
CHANDELIER IN 2005. THE MURALS IN THE AUDITORIUM
WERE ALSO ADDED BACK AROUND THIS TIME. THEN CAME THE KIRBY REBIRTH
IDEA. DOUG NEWELL PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE
IN HELPING WITH MANY OF THE RENOVATIONS. HE WAS ON THE ARTS COUNCIL, AND
HIS SPIRIT WAS AT THE KIRBY. HE SHOWED THE PRESIDENT OF
PIEDMONT COMMUNITY COLLEGE, DR. WALTER BARTLETT, WHAT THE
SECOND FLOOR SPACE COULD BE USED FOR IN 2009. AT THIS TIME, DR. BARTLETT ALSO
TALKED TO THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF PIEDMONT COMMUNITY COLLEGE,
DR. JAMES OWEN, ABOUT THE SECOND FLOOR.>>BOTH OF THEM HAD SAID THAT IT
WAS A DREAM TO HAVE THAT SECOND FLOOR RENOVATED SO IT COULD BE
UTILIZED. WHAT WAS HOLDING BACK WAS IT WAS
NOT A.D.A. COMPLIANT. SO THE BIG HOLDBACK WAS THE
ELEVATOR. WHEN WE ORIGINALLY STARTED THE
RENOVATION, WE HAD TWO THINGS IN MIND. ONE, GET UP THERE, WHICH WAS THE
ELEVATOR. AND, TWO, BRING AT LEAST A
THOUSAND SQUARE FEET UP TO MINIMUM CODE SO WE COULD BE UP
THERE LEGITIMATELY WITHOUT BREAKING ANY KIND OF A.D.A. COMPLIANCE.>>HOWEVER, THE RECESSION HIT
AND BUDGETS GOT CUT. THEN, UNFORTUNATELY, DOUG NEWELL
PASSED AWAY IN 2010. FINALLY, IN 2012, THE KIRBY
REBIRTH IDEA BECAME MORE OF A REALITY. DR. BARTLETT STARTED TALKING TO
THE COUNTY MANAGER, HEIDI YORK, ABOUT PARTNERING WITH THE COUNTY
FOR THE KIRBY PROJECT.>>AND BETWEEN CONVERSATIONS
WITH PRESIDENT OF THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND MYSELF, WE DECIDED
THAT WE WANTED TO EXPLORE, YOU KNOW, WHETHER OR NOT WE COULD
EACH FIND A USE FOR THE SPACE.>>BETH TOWNSEND, WHO IS THE
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PIEDMONT COMMUNITY COLLEGE
FOUNDATION, SPOKE TO DR. BARTLETT ABOUT THE KIRBY
REBIRTH AND BEGAN FUNDRAISING. THEY NEEDED TO RAISE $236,500 TO
INSTALL AN ELEVATOR AND RENOVATE AT LEAST A THOUSAND SQUARE FEET
TO MAKE THE SPACE USABLE.>>WE HAD ONE MAJOR DONOR STEP
FORWARD WITH A GIFT OF $50,000, AND THAT WAS ROXBORO SAVINGS
BANK. AND SO THEY REALLY GOT THE BALL
ROLLING FOR US. WHEN WE SAW THAT COMMITMENT, WE
KNEW WE COULD APPROACH OTHERS AND SAY LOOK WHAT THEY DID. DON’T YOU WANT TO JOIN US? AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT
HAPPENED. AS WE STARTED ASKING AROUND,
FOLKS JUST JUMPED RIGHT ONBOARD WITH THEIR SUPPORT. WE HAVE RECEIVED A MAIN STREET
SOLUTIONS GRANT, WHICH ALLOWED US TO DO MORE WORK INSIDE THAN
WAS ANTICIPATED BUT ALSO WORK ON THE FACADE, WHICH WAS NOT PART
OF THE ORIGINAL PROJECT. SO THEY FUNDED THAT PORTION. THE MARQUEE, WHICH IS PROBABLY
THE MOST EXCITING, HAS BEEN RENOVATED. SO NOW AT NIGHT WHEN YOU GO BY,
THE KIRBY WILL BE LIT UP, AND IT WILL SHOW ON THE MARQUEE WHAT’S
HAPPENING IN TOWN.>>DONATIONS POURED IN FROM ALL
OF PERSON COUNTY, FROM BANKS, LOCAL BUSINESSES, CLUBS, TO
INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES. A PARTNERSHIP WAS ALSO FORMED
BETWEEN PIEDMONT COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND PERSON COUNTY
GOVERNMENT FOR THE KIRBY.>>THE PARTNERSHIP FOR THE KIRBY
IS REALLY UNIQUE. NOT ONLY IS IT A PUBLIC-PRIVATE
PARTNERSHIP IN THAT WE SOLICITED DONATIONS FROM PRIVATE PROVIDERS
AND DIFFERENT COMMUNITY PARTNERS, BUT IT ALSO INVOLVES
THE HIGHER LEARNING INSTITUTE OF THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND THEN
PERSON COUNTY GOVERNMENT.>>THERE ARE FOUR STUDIO SPACES
WHICH INCLUDE AN ART ROOM AND A MUSIC ROOM. THEN THERE ARE THREE LARGER
ROOMS. THESE CAN BE USED FOR RECEPTIONS
OR MEETING AREAS FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES AND COMMUNITY
GATHERINGS. THE MAIN HALL IS USED AS AN ART
GALLERY. WHAT STARTED OUT AS 1,000 SQUARE
FEET EVENTUALLY TURNED INTO 6,000 SQUARE FEET OF USABLE
SPACE FOR THE COUNTY AND THE COLLEGE.>>THE KIRBY CULTURAL ARTS
COMPLEX IS AN ATTRACTOR. IT WILL BRING PEOPLE TO PERSON
COUNTY, AND THEN THAT WILL HELP WITH OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. IT WILL HELP GET THE WORD OUT
ABOUT HOW GREAT PERSON COUNTY IS AND HOW ABOUT HOW GREAT ROXBORO
IS.>>ON MARCH 28th, 2015, THERE
WAS A GRAND OPENING FOR THE SECOND FLOOR. MANY PEOPLE WHO GREW UP GOING TO
THE KIRBY CAME TO SEE THE STUNNING RENOVATIONS.>>IT DEMONSTRATED WHAT A GREAT
COMMUNITY PERSON COUNTY IS. THIS IS AN ENDEAVOR THAT, YOU
KNOW, BOTTOM LINE, WAS JUST UNDER HALF A MILLION DOLLARS. AND I’M PROUD TO SAY THAT THE
MAJORITY OF THE FUNDING CAME FROM NONGOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES. COMMUNITY FOLKS.>>THIS IS A UNIQUE SPACE FOR
PERSON COUNTY. WE DON’T HAVE ANOTHER LARGE
CIVIC AUDITORIUM. THIS IS WHERE PEOPLE COME. THIS IS WHERE DANCE RECITALS
HAPPEN. THIS IS, YOU KNOW, WHERE FOLKS
HAVE GROWN UP DOING THEATRE IN THE KIRBY. I BELIEVE THAT UPTOWN ROXBORO IS
THE LIVING ROOM OF PERSON COUNTY. CITY OF ROXBORO IS THE ONLY
MUNICIPALITY IN PERSON COUNTY, AND THE KIRBY CULTURAL ARTS
COMPLEX IS THE CROWN JEWEL OF THAT LIVING ROOM.

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